J.J.'s foster father molested her from July to September 2009. She disclosed the molestation to county social workers and her parents in December 2011. J.J. filed a government tort claims against the County of San Diego more than one year after the alleged molestation. The County denied the claim since it was filed more than one year after her injury. J.J. filed a petition for relief with the trial court. The trial court denied her petition for relief. J.J appealed.
Before suing a public entity for personal injury, an injured person must present a tort claim. The claimant must present a claim not later than six months after the injury. (Gov. Code § 911.2, subd. (a).) The injured person may sue only after the public entity's board has acted upon or is deemed to have rejected the claim. (Gov. Code, § 945.6.)
If the injured party fails to file a timely claim, he or she may apply to the public entity for leave to present a late claim. (Gov. Code, § 911.4, subd. (a).) If the public entity denies the application, the injured party may petition the court for relief from the claim requirements. (Gov. Code, § 946.6.)
J.J. argued that she filed her government tort claim on time, because it was filed within one year after her lawyer obtained a police investigator's report. J.J. argued that this report showed, for the first time, that the County's negligence was the cause of her injury. J.J also argued that the County was estopped from asserting the untimeliness of her claim, and that her alleged late filing was the result of excusable neglect.
The Court of Appeal rejected J.J.'s arguments. The Court held that J.J.'s cause of action was complete, and the time for her to file her tort claim began running, at the latest, on the date her biological parents (after reunification) appeared and spoke at the sentencing hearing of the former foster father, in March 2011. J.J. filed her government tort claim more than one year later. The Court concluded that the J.J. should have filed her claim, at the latest, one year after her parents appeared and spoke at the sentencing hearing. The Court concluded that plaintiff's claim was untimely and thus barred.
The Court also rejected plaintiff's estoppel and excusable neglect arguments. In doing so, the Court held that J.J.'s status as a minor did not excuse her late filing, because claim-presentation requirements expressly apply to minors.
J.J. v. County of San Diego (2014) 223 Cal.App.4th 1214 [167 Cal.Rptr.3d 861].